Precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum are valued by many investors as a hedge against inflation or a safe haven in times of economic turmoil. They also are valued for their rarity and their use in a broad range of industrial applications. Precious metals exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are a popular way to invest in these metals, either through physical or futures-based exposure. ETFs can offer a more liquid and easier approach to investing in precious metals than buying futures contracts, purchasing bullion, or buying stock in publicly traded companies involved in the exploration or production of these metals.

The precious metals ETF universe is comprised of about 14 distinct ETFs, excluding inverse and leveraged ETFs, as well as funds with less than $50 million in assets under management (AUM). The best performing precious metals ETF for Q3 2020, based on performance over the past year, is the Aberdeen Standard Physical Palladium Shares ETF (PALL). We examine the top 3 best precious metals ETFs below. All numbers in this story are as of May 13, 2020.

Aberdeen Standard Physical Palladium Shares ETF (PALL)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 40.6%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.60%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 59,884
  • Assets Under Management: $237.1 million
  • Inception Date: January 6, 2010
  • Issuing Company: Aberdeen Standard Investments

PALL is structured as a grantor trust, offering investors a certain degree of tax protection. The fund offers physical exposure to palladium by holding bars of the metal in a secure vault, and aims to track the spot price of the metal. PALL offers investors a convenient way to invest in palladium without having to worry about separate storage costs or with the complexities associated with futures contracts. However, palladium is often highly correlated to the automobile industry and can be very cyclical.

Perth Mint Physical Gold ETF (AAAU)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 30.9%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.18%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 283,541
  • Assets Under Management: $280.9 million
  • Inception Date: August 15, 2018
  • Issuing Company: Perth Mint

AAAU is an ETF that provides investors with 100% physical exposure to gold. The fund tracks the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) Gold PM Price. It is structured as a grantor trust and benefits from a guarantee given by the Government of Western Australia, assuring investors that the gold owned by the trust will be stored securely. Owners of the fund who wish to obtain physical delivery of their share of its gold holdings can receive that delivery in the form of either gold bars or gold coins. The LBMA sets the "London spot fix" twice per day, once at 10:30 and once again at 15:00 GMT. The latter time gives the price--the "London p.m. fix"--that AAAU tracks.

GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR)

  • Performance over 1-Year: 30.9%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.17%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 567,267
  • Assets Under Management: $890.2 million
  • Inception Date: August 31, 2017
  • Issuing Company: GraniteShares

BAR is structured as a grantor trust, which may provide investors with certain tax advantages. The trust is fully backed by physical gold bullion and is designed to track the performance of the price of gold. The trust stores its gold bullion in London, UK, and undergoes a physical audit of its gold holdings twice per year. As of an audit in November 2019, it held approximately 389,379 ounces of gold in its vault. Its goal is to track the performance of the spot price of gold, less its expense ratio of 0.17%.